After touring with artist collective, Transit Antenna, in a bus powered by free waste vegetable oil, the Yale University fine arts grad tried unsuccessfully to score a teaching gig in academia. There was no room in the ivory towers, however, and Snead turned instead to designing a line of wallets inspired by people like himself who were struggling to stay afloat in the Great Recession.In a recent Daily Grommet post highlighting the new business, Snead said the irony of making wallets in "the worst economy of our lifetime" is not lost on him.
Similar to the "chicken in every pot" presidential candidate Herbert Hoover once promised pre-depression-era voters, Snead prints every Is Not Broke wallet with a $20 bill on the inside. No matter what the financial situation, there will always be an Andrew Jackson in your pocket.
On the outside of the limited-edition handcrafted wallets, original artwork tells the stories of real-life recession heroes who fight on the front lines of financial hardship. A Pontiac Firebird-inspired wallet (Firebird, $28) pays tribute to the muscle car mechanic who works to support the needs of a son with Cystic Fibrosis.
Another design in Is Not Broke's Upturn Collection is entitled, The Suit ($28), and is based on the true story of Josh Silverman, a wealth management adviser who described his recession experience as:
"Things are better now, to be sure, but not too long ago:
Savings = done
IRAs = cashed in
Mom = tapped and pissed off
Money Man Pawn is a best friend
Kids to feed, a mortgage, tuition. Like a needy, greedy fiend.
Two business revisions lead to acclaim but no cash at all.
Christmas is extra-bleak. Hanukkah is a non-event.
Even the freezer conspired against us, and all the food we stored up like squirrels went bad.
Two years later, we're chipping away at it all. It's better. And it all goes under the mattress. The irony is that every day I'm asked how to make a quick buck. I used to respond to that with a quick recommendation. Now I tell them there are no short-cuts, to be prudent, patient, and calm. I'm the oldest 37 year old I know working in finance. To say the experience was humbling would be accurate, but wouldn't begin to touch it."
Snead said, "Josh's final statement seemed like a call to arms, and so we felt compelled to depict the situation that many financial sector workers have seen over the past few years."A situation WalletPop recently reported isn't getting much better (Disappointing U.S. Job Growth; Jobless Rate up to 9.8%).
A portion of the proceeds from each wallet in the Upturn Collection will be donated to a charity that reflects the needs of the recession story that served as inspiration.
Snead is also giving away wallets for free. If you share your recession story and it inspires a new design, Snead will send you a personalized Is Not Broke wallet free of charge. Even if you don't get picked, it's cheaper than therapy.
Randy Dunn, the Daily Grommet reader who was the first to give the wallets a shout-out said, "Combining the elements of art and function along with the always-present $20 bill. completely sold me ... Each one is hand-made by an accomplished artist with a dedication to bringing art to 'the people' while maintaining a sense of humor."
And right now, everybody could use a laugh.